Grads cap off UCSD years in 11 ceremonies


Eleven commencement ceremonies at UCSD awarded 7,673 graduates with diplomas over the weekend. Leading up to the majority of the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies was the university’s third annual All Campus Graduation Celebration where former UCSD student and co-founder of the nonprofit organization Invisible Children, Laren Poole gave the keynote speech to 2,200 attendees.

Invisible Children uses the power of media to inspire young people to help end the Ugandan conflict, the longest running war in Africa. Recently, Poole was with President Obama for the signing of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery (LRA) Act— legislation that will enable the U.S. State Department to help end the war in Uganda.

In Poole’s talk, he encouraged students to not be nervous about graduating in this shaky economy. “I’m here to say: If there are no jobs waiting for you, good,” he said. “Make your own jobs. Create new industries. Discover new roads.”

Other speakers included acclaimed science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson’s, ‘82, Ph.D., who addressed Sixth College graduates Sunday. Also, Donald W. Murphy ,’75, Executive officer for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which reveals stories of heroes from the Underground Railroad era, spoke to Revelle College’s 950 graduating students and some 7000 guests.

On June 13 Rakim Johnson, who grew up in an impoverished single-parent home received his diploma at the Thurgood Marshall Ceremony.

Although drugs and incarceration were the norm in his community, he said he can now appreciate what living there has taught him.

“It helped shape the man I am today,” he said. “In the four years I’ve spent at UC San Diego I have come to terms with my background and feel proud to have overcome the obstacles I faced.”

The economics major always earned high grades from elementary to high school and thrived at UC San Diego. An honors student, he held many leadership positions and made a lot of friends through the Pre-Law Society, Economics Honors Society, Active Students for Kids and Teens and other student organizations at UC San Diego.

Johnson will start law school at Stanford University this fall. “I’m very excited,” he said. “I grew up in public housing and benefited from public programs, so I hope to help protect those programs and the people who need them by my practice in law.”